Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit handed down an opinion in Gonzalez v. Arizona, a long-running case involving a challenge to Arizona’s proof of citizenship and ID requirement – two provisions enacted by Arizona voters as part of Proposition 200 in 2004. I have been following this case for several years, yet I will readily admit that I had completely forgotten about it in the wake of all the other challenges and controversies across the nation recently. The last “big news” on this case was a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2006 vacating an injunction and sending the case back to the lower courts for further disposition.
Nearly six years later the case is back, and it involves a signifcant wrinkle that will be interesting to watch as Election Day 2012 approaches. Specifically, the circuit has said that while Arizona’s proof of citizenship law is acceptable, it cannot be enforced against voters or organizations who use the federal voter registration form created for use by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993, or motor voter. States are required by NVRA to “accept and use” the federal form – and so the courts in Arizona were being asked to resolve this conflict.